Both presidential candidates have used the memory of 9/11 during the campaign

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump © Reuters
Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns said they would pause for the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks but that hasn’t stopped either of them from dragging up 9/11 on the campaign trail to their advantage.

This week while campaigning in Cleveland, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed he could have prevented 9/11 by arresting Osama bin Laden before the attacks.

“I would’ve been tougher on terrorism. Bin Laden would’ve been caught a long time ago, before he was ultimately caught, prior to the downing of the World Trade Center,” Trump said during an aside about his position on Iraq, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Trump also said he would have cast a vote opposing the invasion of Iraq, despite previously earlier in the campaign telling shock jock radio host Howard Stern that he supported the invasion.

The Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton speaking before an audience in Tampa, Florida this week used the 9/11 tragedy to tout her ability to help those affected the attacks and punish those responsible.

"I am a very patient person. I don’t quit, I don’t give up, I don’t blink," she said, according to the New York Daily News. "I knew people who were killed. I worked with families and the few survivors. I worked to get healthcare needed by the first responders and emergency workers who ran toward danger. I worked to make our country safer and to rebuild New York and the Pentagon. But I always, always was determined to do anything I could to bring Bin Laden to justice."

She boasted of her role in deciding to kill Osama Bin Laden, her support of the sting and the work of the Navy SEALS.

In the days after 9/11, she voted for the Patriot Act, and its far-reaching consequences today which unleashed unprecedented surveillance of Americans. She supported trying suspected terrorists in military tribunals, and the war in Iraq.

Donald Trump has said often that he was downtown, that he helped people – but speaking to an audience in Buffalo, New York, on April 18, 2016, he blundered out a malapropism over the date.

“I was down there. I worked with our police and our firemen. I was down there on 7/11. I went down to the World Trade Center right after it came down,” Trump told the crowd. “I saw the greatest people I have ever seen in action. I saw the bravest people I’ve ever seen including the construction workers, including every person down there.”

There is German TV footage of a lengthy interview with the candidate on the day of the attack.

He may well have been down there, but others remember his “help” differently.

“Both candidates are flawed. I’m shocked out of 300 million people this is the best that we can do,” John Feal, who was a 9/11 responder, and has been instrumental in shepherding through the Zadroga Health Act, told RT. “Both of them have passed comments on 9/11, about 9/11, and what they’ve done about 9/11.”

Feal said both of them have come up short but “one of them has actually done something.”

“Donald Trump has never helped any 9/11 organization that we know of. We asked Donald Trump’s campaign when we were trying to get the bill passed last year to help us, we were turned down,” said Feal. “Donald Trump took $150,000 back in 2001 for small businesses that were affected by 9/11, and that money could’ve gone to someone else. I don’t think Donald Trump needed that $150,000.”

As for Hillary Clinton, Feal said “she was there in the beginning.”

“She spearheaded the whole 9/11 health movement [the Walsh amendment] and then Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer and others in the New York delegation ran with it but that’s about it.”

The Walsh amendment was attached to the Hurricane Katrina clean-up bill, $125 million. President Bush and congress wanted to take back the money from New York when it was slow to utilize it. Then New York Senator Clinton fought and Congressman

New York congressman James Walsh (R) fought to get it back to NY under the 9/11 Health bill.

Eric Williams, a freelance reporter who was downtown when the 9/11 attacks happened. He said he thought the Clinton campaign has been reticent on 9/11 but does seem intent on war in the Middle East.

“For both candidates 9/11 is like the monkey or elephant in the room,” Williams told RT. “Looming large but was not really talked about.”

He said the Trump campaign runs on “this undercurrent of fear and xenophobia about ‘the other,’ which feeds into his whole idea of ‘Make America Great Again.”